Heart Valve Disease

Heart Valve Disease can be prevented and its symptoms can be diagnosed earlier to prevent it from worsening.

The heart valves are the exit and entry point of every chamber of the heart and it maintains a one way flow of the blood within the heart. All four heart valves ensure that blood always flow liberally in a frontward direction and that there is no backflow. If malfunctions occur with these valves, symptoms can come. The disease should be diagnosed as soon as possible so that treatment can begin.

What are the Preventive Measures for Heart Valve Disease?

Valvular heart disease can be caused by rheumatic fever, and in order to prevent it, rheumatic fever must also be prevented. Timely treatment of sore throat and other infections using antibiotics may prevent the occurrence of rheumatic fever. A healthy heart lifestyle is suggested to lessen the incidence of high blood pressure, heart attack and atherosclerosis that can damage the heart tissues especially the heart valves.

The healthy heart lifestyle include healthy eating habits through a balanced diet that is low in fat and salt content; regular exercise and weight reduction if you are overweight; and adherence to the treatment regimen for the disease. Maintaining your blood sugar within normal levels is also important if you are diabetic. The person is also advised to stop smoking and not to drink more than two  glasses of alcoholic liquour a day;

What are the Symptoms of Valvular Heart Disease?

Valvular heart disease symptoms can transpire suddenly, depending upon the time it takes for the disease to develop. If it has a slow pace, then the heart may able to adapt and the person may not become aware of the onset of any indications.

The severity of the manifestations doesn’t necessarily draw a parallel relationship to the severity of the Heart Valve Disease. This only means that the person may be asymptomatic but has a severe case of valve disease. Inversely, symptoms that are severe could come from a small valve seep out.

Several symptoms may be analogous with congestive heart failure. The patient may have wheezing after restricted physical exertion, shortness of breath and edema or swelling of the ankles (See: Ankle pain), hands and abdomen. Other symptoms also come about such as fatigue, palpitations, mild chest pain, dizziness, fainting, fever (infection) and abrupt weight gain.

How is Valvular Heart Disease Diagnosed?

During examination, the physician performs a physical assessment to listen for idiosyncratic heart sounds also known as heart murmurs that is a warning sign of the disease. As a component of diagnosing heart diseases, the patient has to undergo one or more diagnostic tests.

A series of test will be performed such as Electrocardiogram. It is commonly known as ECG or EKG. ECG measures the regularity of heartbeats and the electrical activity of the heart. It can determine if the heart muscle is injured due to coronary artery disease and thickening of the heart muscle or hypertrophy. Stress testing is also performed using a treadmill. This is to measure heart rate, breathing and blood pressure changes during exercise. All through out this test, the electrical activity of the heart is observed using a small metal sensor attached to the skin while the patient does exercise on a treadmill.

Chest X-ray is also suggested with this condition due to its possible complications. Echocardiogram is used to assess the heart’s function. This test uses recorded sound waves that bounces off the heart that are later translated into images. The images can reveal an abnormal or normal heart shape, size and movement. It can also gauge the ejection volume or fraction of the blood pumped out  to the body as the heart contracts. Cardiac Catheterization is an invasive diagnostic test which involves the threading of a catheter into the patient’s heart chambers to measure irregularities in pressure across the valves or to monitor for backflow of a contrast dye on an X-ray machine to detect ineptitude.

What are the Treatments for Heart Valve Disease?

The management for this condition includes a part of its prevention measures. Following a healthy heart lifestyle can prevent the blood pressure from elevating and from causing a complication that you don’t want to happen. A course of antibiotic medications will be prescribed during the preoperative period or dental procedures to prevent endocarditis. A long-standing antibiotic therapy is suggested to prevent recurrence.

The pharmacologic treatments of Heart Valve Disease are antithrombotic therapy such as aspirin for those who have experienced inexplicable transient ischemic attacks TIA that may lead to stoke. Much potent anticoagulants like warfarin may be given to those who have atrial fibrillation or who has prolonged TIAs in spite of initial treatments. Long term use of this medication is necessary for post-valve replacement surgery because of the higher risk for blood clots to develop. Balloon dilatation is a surgical procedure concerning the insertion of a small balloon into a blood vessel that is guided by a catheter to the tapered site and then inflating it on the stenotic valve. Valve surgery is the repair of a damaged valve by replacing it with prosthesis.

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